Elks Lodge needs more volunteers for dinners, other help

The Wrangell Elks Lodge has been active in town since 1935 and could use a few more active volunteers to help with its weekend dinners, chores around the building and public services.

“It is getting worse over time,” said Dawn Angerman, one of the volunteer club managers. “It’s not just the Elks, it’s everywhere.”

Multiple community groups in Wrangell have struggled in recent years with finding new people to serve on boards or volunteer for work projects.

“COVID didn’t help,” Angerman said. “People just haven’t broken out of that yet,” with many choosing to stay at home more.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau and AmeriCorps survey released this past spring, fewer than one in four people nationwide participated in a formal volunteer program, down from almost one in three in 2019. It was the largest drop in participation in more than 20 years.

Frequent turnover of volunteers is another factor, Angerman said.

Volunteers do not have to be a member of the Elks Lodge.

A big need is more volunteer help for Friday night burgers and Saturday steak dinners, said Angerman, who also is co-chair of the lodge’s house committee. The Elks do not have a paid cook; the lodge depends on volunteers to help with the weekend dinners and special meals during the year, such as deliveries of the free dinners provided to veterans on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Cleaning up and clearing tables also is a big help, she said. Volunteers get their dinners at a discount.

For those unavailable for weekend dinners, or more interested in other volunteer assignments, “there’s always something to do.” Help would be welcome with freight unloading, painting or groundskeeping.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Angerman at 907-305-0552, or just stop by the lodge on Front Street.

The Elks have the only bowling lanes in town, and bowling nights used to help bring in new members, Angerman said. But bowling is not the draw it used to be.

“At one time, we used to have 10 mixed (teams) on Sundays.” This season, which started in October, there are just four mixed teams.

There are four mens teams — about half the pre-COVID number — and no teams signed up for womens bowling this year.

The men bowl on Thursdays and Fridays; the mixed teams on Sundays.

If the lodge can rebuild its bowling numbers, it might help in the search for grant funds to update the lanes, including an automated scoring system, she said. “We’re still doing the old school keep-the-score-yourself way.”


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